Scott W. Harold

Photo of Scott Harold
Senior Political Scientist; Affiliate Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office

Education

Ph.D., M.A. in political science, Columbia University; B.A. in international relations, Michigan State University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Overview

Scott W. Harold is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, and an affiliate faculty member at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He specializes in the foreign and defense policies of China, Japan, North and South Korea, and Taiwan.

Prior to joining RAND in August 2008, Harold worked at the Brookings Institution's John L. Thornton China Center from 2006 to 2008. In addition to his work at RAND, since 2006 he has been an adjunct professor of security studies in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is also an adjunct professor of international affairs in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University where he has taught on East Asian security and Chinese politics, and an adjunct professor of International Affairs in the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.

From 2012 to 2017, Harold was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has also held visiting fellowships at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin, Germany, in 2018 and Institut Montaigne in Paris, France, in 2019.  He is currently a member of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation U.S.-Japan Network for the Future, Cohort V. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. His doctorate is in political science from Columbia University, where he wrote a thesis on China's foreign policy decisionmaking with respect to joining the World Trade Organization. 

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Adjunct Professor of Security Studies, Security Studies Program, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Adjunct Professor of International Affairs, School of International and Public Administration, Columbia University; Adjunct Professor of International Affairs, Elliot School of International Affairs, The George Washington University

Previous Positions

Senior Research Analyst, The John L. Thornton China Center, The Brookings Institution

Recent Projects

  • The Thickening Web of Asian Security Cooperation
  • Countering China's Efforts to Isolate Taiwan Diplomatically in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Role of Development Assistance and Disaster Relief
  • Defeat, Not Merely Compete: China's View of Its Military Aerospace Goals and Requirements in Relation to the United States
  • The U.S. - Japan Alliance and Deterring Gray Zone Coercion in the Maritime, Cyber, and Space Domains
  • Getting to Yes with China in Cyberspace

Selected Publications

Scott W. Harold, "U.S. Policy Options for Hong Kong," Foreign Affairs, 2019

Scott W. Harold, "Why South Korea Should Re-think GSOMIA Withdrawal," The Diplomat, 2019

Scott W. Harold, "The Emerging U.S. - China Strategic Competition and the Role of Trans-Atlantic Cooperation," Institut Montaigne blog, 2019

Scott W. Harold, "Optimizing the U.S. - China Military - to - Military Relationship," Asia Policy, 14(3), 2019

Scott W. Harold, "Winning the Ideological Competition with China," The Asan Forum, 2019

Scott W. Harold, "Countering North Korea's Political Warfare," The Diplomat, 2018

Scott W. Harold and Jeffrey W. Hornung, "South Korea's Real Fight is with China, Not Japan," The Diplomat, 2018

Scott W. Harold, "The Legacy Obama Leaves His Successor in Asia," The National Interest, 2016

Languages

Mandarin Chinese

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Asia News Weekly; BBC World Service; Huffington Post Live; John Batchelor Show; KCRW-FM; Radio Free Asia; Voice of America

Commentary

  • Two Korean sailors watch the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge as it arrives in Busan, Republic of Korea, March 5, 2010, photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Bobbie Attaway/U.S. Navy

    As COVID-19 Makes Clear, U.S. Allies in the Indo-Pacific, Not the Money They Pay to Host U.S. Forces, Are the Value Proposition

    The great value the United States extracts from its alliances with Japan and South Korea is not the money they provide to offset the costs of hosting U.S. forces; the value is the deep and abiding alliances themselves and the liberal, democratic, rule of law market economies and societies to which they link the United States.

    Jun 12, 2020 The Dlplomat

  • A sign with flags of (R-L) Tuvalu, Nauru, Taiwan, Marshall Islands, and Palau is seen before a ceremony to donate masks to Taiwan's Pacific allies, in Taipei, Taiwan, April 15, 2020, photo by Ben Blanchard/Reuters

    Should the U.S. Move to Strengthen Ties with Taiwan?

    The contrasts in behavior between Taiwan and China during the COVID-19 pandemic show why it could be critical that U.S. policymakers consider advancing U.S.-Taiwan cooperation to enhance Taiwan's security, protect U.S. interests, and preserve peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

    Jun 8, 2020 The Hill

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presides over a meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Military Commission, May 24, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    For the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, It’s the North Korean Regime, Not Kim Jong Un Per Se, That Is the Threat

    Would Kim Jong Un's death improve U.S., South Korean, and Japanese security? Maybe not. North Korea's advancing nuclear and other military capabilities are driving an expanded set of problems, and while Kim's sudden death might constitute a destabilizing factor for the regime, the available evidence suggests the regime itself is the problem.

    Jun 8, 2020 RealClearDefense

  • Passersby walk past a countdown clock showing the adjusted days and time until the start of the postponed Tokyo Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, April 1, 2020, photo by Issei Kato/Reuters

    Jumpstarting the U.S.-Japan-Korea Trilateral Amid COVID-19

    Since roughly 2012, South Korea–Japan ties have frayed. Could the United States encourage trilateral medical cooperation during the pandemic, ensure that the Tokyo Olympic Games are held, and in so doing help heal the relationship between Seoul and Tokyo?

    May 6, 2020 The Diplomat

  • Security personnel stand guard near a "Golden Bridge on Silk Road" decoration for the Belt and Road Forum outside the China National Convention Center in Beijing, China, April 25, 2019, photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

    China's Footprint in Europe

    Tensions between Washington and Brussels may be helping China find a more receptive audience for its Belt and Road initiative. One of the central challenges for the United States and Europe will be to forge a more united approach to China's resurgence.

    Jan 13, 2020 ChinaFile

  • Protesters raise their hands outside the Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, China, November 25, 2019, photo by Marko Djurica/Reuters

    U.S. Policy Options for Hong Kong

    After months of escalating police violence and protester resistance, matters in Hong Kong have come to a head. What steps could the United States consider to reduce the prospect of a resurgence in violence?

    Dec 2, 2019 Council on Foreign Relations

  • Closeup of South Korean and Japanese flags, photo by Oleksii Liskonih/Getty Images

    South Korea Should Consider Sticking with Intelligence-Sharing Pact with Japan

    South Korea announced its intent to withdraw from an intelligence-sharing arrangement with Japan. There are four reasons that Seoul should strongly consider reversing course.

    Nov 5, 2019 The Diplomat

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    The Emerging U.S.–China Strategic Competition and the Role of Trans-Atlantic Cooperation

    When competing with China, what role should U.S. alliances, especially the transatlantic relationships the United States has with its European partners, play? This question is potentially decisive for whether or not any strategy adopted by the U.S. to compete with China will succeed or fail.

    Oct 8, 2019 Institut Montaigne

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-In (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019, photo by Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

    South Korea–Japan Tensions Complicate U.S. Efforts to Leverage Allies in Competition with China

    The rapid deterioration of ties between South Korea and Japan not only undercuts America's Indo-Pacific strategy, it also increases the risks to U.S. allies and partners in the region. Just how consequential is the growing South Korea–Japan tension for U.S. strategy and what is Washington doing to address the issue?

    Sep 17, 2019 Institut Montaigne

  • Soldiers sit on an M60A3 tank for a group photograph after an anti-invasion drill to test readiness ahead of Lunar New Year, simulating enemy invasion and the safeguarding of the weapon systems in case of air raid, in Taichung, Taiwan, January 17, 2019, Photo by Tyrone Siu/Reuters

    Making Sense of U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

    Why does the U.S. sell arms to Taiwan? And what is the impact on the cross-Strait military balance? Taiwan's arms purchase reflects a continuing concern over Beijing's military intentions; a balancing of operational and political considerations; a commitment by the United States to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself; and an American refusal to “stand down” in the face of China's aggressive behavior and coercion of Indo-Pacific democracies.

    Aug 9, 2019 Institut Montaigne

  • U.S. Army and Chinese PLA military personnel attend a disaster management exchange near Nanjing, China, November 17, 2018, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Managing U.S. Military-to-Military Relations with China, a Strategic Competitor in an Era of Renewed Great Power Competition

    The United States National Security Strategy describes a return of great power rivalry with China as the leading challenger, and the National Defense Strategy prioritizes strategic competition. What are the implications for U.S.-China military-to-military relations?

    Mar 8, 2019 ChinaFile

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at an opening of a new session of parliament in Tokyo, January 22, 2018

    What Does Japan Think of the Iran Nuclear Deal?

    What is Tokyo's view of the Iran nuclear deal and how has Tokyo responded to the U.S. threat to withdraw from it? What role is Japan, the world's third-largest economy, a major U.S. ally, and the only country ever to be attacked with nuclear weapons, likely to play in attempting to preserve, improve, or scrap the deal?

    Mar 26, 2018 The Diplomat

  • North Korean cheerleaders await the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 9, 2018

    Countering North Korea's Political Warfare

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has outmaneuvered South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the month leading up to the Olympics. This has dangerous consequences for South Korea's security, democracy, and its alliance with the United States.

    Feb 11, 2018 The Diplomat

  • South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a news conference in Seoul, November 7, 2017

    South Korea Picking the Wrong Fight

    Washington may need to encourage Seoul to find ways to cooperate with Tokyo in confronting threats from the region's revisionist actors, rather than picking fights with Japan.

    Jan 7, 2018 The Diplomat

  • U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Japan, February 3, 2017

    U.S.-Japan Defense Relations Under Trump

    U.S.–Japan relations appear to be stabilizing after a successful visit by Defense Secretary James Mattis to Tokyo that reaffirmed the alliance, followed by an equally successful visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the U.S. Next, will the Trump administration articulate goals for the region?

    Mar 3, 2017 The Cipher Brief

  • U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (left) meets with South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn in Seoul, February 2, 2017

    Mattis' Mission in Asia

    U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis made his first overseas trip this week, visiting Japan and South Korea. He reassured them that U.S. alliances in East Asia will remain strong, while also clarifying Washington's expectations.

    Feb 6, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (center) poses for a photo with numerous Asian leaders before the East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 8, 2016

    The Legacy Obama Leaves His Successor in Asia

    The U.S. pivot to the Indo-Pacific has improved U.S. popularity and influence, and positioned it for gains in regional economic, diplomatic, and military cooperation. The incoming administration would be wise to embrace these gains and build on them to preserve and further develop U.S. interests and influence in the region.

    Oct 26, 2016 The National Interest

  • The U.S. and Japanese flags blend together

    Don't Weaken the U.S.-Japan Alliance, Strengthen It

    As long as the United States and Japan stick together, they should have the strength to deter or, if necessary, defeat the threats they face. But if Washington abandons its alliance commitments, the risk of war will rise and America will be less safe.

    Aug 14, 2016 The National Interest

  • Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, in Beijing, China, April 30, 2016

    Do Economic Ties Limit the Prospect of Conflict?

    China has grown stronger economically and militarily over the past 35 years and has become more assertive. Its trade and investment links with Japan are substantial but they have been declining, and are less of a constraint on conflict than before.

    Aug 9, 2016 The Cipher Brief

  • Guo Shengkun, China's Minister of Public Security, speaks during the Second U.S.-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues in Beijing, China, June 14, 2016

    The U.S.-China Cyber Agreement: A Good First Step

    The 2015 U.S.-China cyber agreement is a potentially important first step toward addressing the problem of Chinese espionage. But it is by no means a final step.

    Aug 1, 2016 The Cipher Brief

  • U.S. President Barack Obama puts his arm around Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after they laid wreaths in front of a cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, May 27, 2016

    President Obama's Visit to Japan and the Transformation of Japan's Defense Policy

    Washington and Tokyo have moved to actively shape and reinforce the values, norms, institutions, and regional order that have served to enable the Asia-Pacific to emerge as an engine of growth and bastion of freedom and democracy over the past nearly 40 years.

    May 31, 2016 The Cipher Brief

  • U.S. President Barack Obama attends a press conference with Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang at the Presidential Palace Compound in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 23, 2016

    Why Has Obama Lifted the Arms Sales Ban on Vietnam?

    The lifting of the arms embargo needs to be understood as part of the long process of normalizing relations with a former U.S. enemy and building toward a more cooperative, economically dynamic, and strategic future-oriented relationship.

    May 25, 2016 Newsweek

  • Doves fly over the Peace Memorial Park with a view of the gutted A-bomb dome at a ceremony in Hiroshima, Japan

    5 Things That Should Happen When Obama Visits Hiroshima

    On May 27, President Barack Obama will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city of Hiroshima. The visit is a sign of respect and friendship between the American and Japanese people, and should make the two countries' ties even stronger.

    May 23, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. President Barack Obama reviews an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, April 24, 2014

    Obama Should Visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    During his upcoming visit to Japan, President Obama will have an opportunity to do something that none of his predecessors have ever done: visit the first and last cities to suffer atomic bombings.

    Apr 28, 2016 Newsweek

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcome Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe  for a State Dinner in their honor at the White House in Washington

    Shinzo Abe Visit Caps New Dawn in U.S.-Japan Relations

    A shift toward “collective self-defense” will allow Japan to take joint military action with its allies even when it is not directly attacked and thereby participate in security measures beyond its borders. Prime Minister Abe's trip to Washington this week is intended to cement Japan's deepening bilateral security alliance with the U.S.

    Apr 30, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Pro-democracy lawmakers protest as Li Fei (on screen), deputy general secretary of the National People's Congress standing committee, speaks during a briefing session in Hong Kong Sept. 1, 2014

    Big Trouble in Little China

    As China's central government and Hong Kong residents consider next steps after last week's decision on the 2017 chief executive election, they will do so against a background of deteriorating trust, declining social acceptance of integration, and a worsening of relations between Hong Kong and mainland Chinese society.

    Sep 9, 2014 Foreign Affairs

  • Chinese naval soldiers stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning

    Thoughts on China's New Air Defense Zone Policy

    In response to an inquiry from The Nelson Report, RAND's Scott Harold offered some thoughts on China's new air defense zone policy and how Japan and South Korea could be brought closer together by their respective responses.

    Dec 4, 2013 The RAND Blog

  • Secretary Kerry Meets With South Korean President Park Geun-hye

    Obama-Park Summit a Critical Opportunity for the US-Korea Alliance

    To preserve and protect the peace and freedom that has seen Asia develop into a third engine of the global economy, the United States and South Korea should take steps to deepen their security cooperation in three areas: bilateral alliance management, defense force modernization, and improved regional diplomatic coordination.

    Apr 18, 2013 PacNet, CSIS and Asia Times

  • a handshake

    A Russia-China Alliance Brewing?

    Three major areas appear to have been the focus of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's recent summit: managing expectations about the relationship; expanding bilateral trade in energy and arms; and cooperation on international security affairs.

    Apr 12, 2013 The Diplomat

  • Senior members of the People's Liberation Army met the U.S. Pacific Command aircrews when they delivered relief supplies to the earthquake-stricken Sichuan province in May 2008

    China's Defense Spending Mystery

    China's decision to expand defense spending also carries clues about the Party's need to keep the military happy, the new leadership's confidence and new President Xi Jinping's ability to put his own stamp on policy from the start, writes Scott Harold.

    Mar 13, 2013 CNN

  • U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, February 22, 2013

    What to Expect from Obama and Abe's U.S.-Japan Summit

    To make the meeting between President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe successful, Washington and Tokyo will need to gain greater clarity on three broad areas: security, trade, and common values, writes Scott Harold.

    Feb 22, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • President Barack Obama greets Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand during the ASEAN Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 18, 2011.

    Obama Trip Could Be Bellwether for U.S.-Asia Relations

    Specific areas of focus for President Obama's visit are likely to include expanding trade and investment opportunities for U.S. businesses in Southeast Asia, increasing defense cooperation with Thailand, and offers of disaster recovery assistance to Burma in the wake of its recent earthquake, writes Scott Harold.

    Nov 15, 2012 The RAND Blog and GlobalSecurity.org

  • Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta shakes hands with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping prior to a meeting in Beijing China, Sept. 19, 2012

    Panetta Walks Fine Line During China Visit

    Panetta's visit should make clear that China's lawless domestic behavior will not be allowed to be repeated abroad, because if it is, it could lead to armed conflict between China and the U.S.-Japan alliance, writes Scott Harold.

    Sep 19, 2012 The RAND Blog

  • world map with China colored red like its flag

    Will China's Nationalism Come Back to Bite Leaders?

    It is possible that at some point, anti-Japan protests could slip beyond the regime's control, and Party leaders worry that mishandling such tensions could affect the regime's legitimacy—and ultimately erode its grip on power, writes Scott Harold.

    Sep 5, 2012 CNN

  • aircraft carrier USS George Washington

    Beijing Unflustered by Cool Ties With Seoul

    In light of deeply-rooted policy differences, so clearly on display in China’s treatment of South Korea over the past two years, no amount of tweaking around the margins of policy, inspired by internet polling, is likely to lead to dramatic improvements in the bilateral relationship.

    Aug 20, 2012 YaleGlobal

  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

    Questions After the First U.S. Bank Takeover by a Chinese State-Controlled Company

    In considering foreign application to acquire U.S. companies, the United States needs to consider both risks as well as benefits in both defense and economic dimensions, write Charles Wolf, Jr., Brian Chow, Gregory Jones, and Scott Harold.

    May 15, 2012 The RAND Blog and GlobalSecurity.org

Publications